Semin Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth, December 2013.
Bai X, Twaroski D, Bosnjak ZJ.


Mounting preclinical evidence in rodents and nonhuman primates has demonstrated that prolonged exposure of developing animals to general anesthetics can induce widespread neuronal cell death followed by long-term memory and learning disabilities. In vitro experimental evidence from cultured neonatal animal neurons confirmed the in vivo findings. However, there is no direct clinical evidence of the detrimental effects of anesthetics in human fetuses, infants, or children. Development of an in vitro neurogenesis system using human stem cells has opened up avenues of research for advancing our understanding of human brain development and the issues relevant to anesthetic-induced developmental toxicity in human neuronal lineages. Recent studies from our group, as well as other groups, showed that isoflurane influences human neural stem cell proliferation and neurogenesis, whereas ketamine induces neuroapoptosis. Application of this high throughput in vitro stem cell neurogenesis approach is a major stride toward ensuring the safety of anesthetic agents in young children. This in vitro human model allows us to (1) screen the toxic effects of various anesthetics under controlled conditions during intense neuronal growth, (2) find the trigger for the anesthetic-induced catastrophic chain of toxic events, and (3) develop prevention strategies to avoid this toxic effect. In this article, we reviewed the current findings in anesthetic-induced neurotoxicity studies, specifically focusing on the in vitro human stem cell model.

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